the top families and the common people, a division which produces hatred and resentment'.5 Or at least incomprehension. The Catholic elite in Mexico had little contact with the popular sectors of the church, while they were marked off from other leading groups by their religion and their politics, steadfast in defence of hierarchy in church and state. Catholic conservatives were politically destroyed by their liberal enemies during the civil wars of the Reform and subsequently kept a low profile.
In Argentina immigration had mixed effects on religion. Many Spanish, Italian and French immigrants were enemies of the church, political exiles hostile to clericalism. Many others were indifferent or would say that their work gave them no time for religion, which was best left to women and children. And some had their faith tested for the first time. A Catholic from Galicia wrote home to say, 'Paco, on arriving in Buenos Aires I have learnt on good authority that God does not exist.'6 On the other hand, practising Catholics from northern Italy, Germany and Ireland reinforced the faith and increased vocations. Demographically Argentina remained a Catholic country, and in 1910 Catholics comprised 92 per cent of the population; but numbers countered for little in the struggle to preserve religion in the schools and in the laws of marriage, a contradiction that always bewildered the hierarchy.
In Colombia, unlike Mexico, religion was an agent of social cohesion and enabled people of different social origins to interact in common endeavours, in charity hospitals and social welfare projects. The Jesuits sought a new constituency among urban workers by changing the old devotional associations into workers' mutual aid organisations. The church became a 'familiar' institution, closely involved with people in new forms of social organisation, a unifying, not a divisive, influence. In Medellin, while the church increased its presence and penetrated the lives of the people - in parishes, pious associations, religious communities and public professions of faith - this was not introverted religion but served a humanitarian purpose, and the result was the growth of numerous philanthropic societies that brought social stability to Antioquia.
In Peru the politics of Catholics, clergy and lay, were conformist. The church was scorned by the intellectual elite as an obstacle to progress, and the corrupt and debauched rural priest became a stock character in the demonology of the Peruvian left. The church added fuel to the flames in its deference to Hispanic
5 Cardenal, El poder eclesiástico en El Salvador, p. 163.
6 E. Mignone, 'La Iglesia argentina en la organización nacional', HGIAL, vol. ix (1994), p. 342.
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